Pinewood Bowl was shaking Wednesday (9/22) as nearly 5,000 fans packed the venue to say goodbye to summer.
The headliners Shinedown brought along The Struts from the U.K. and newcomer Zero 9:36. All three bands helped the crowd celebrate the end of the Pinewood Bowl concert season in style. There's still lots of good shows left this year, but this was a big one for the outdoor concert scene.
The first band up was Zero 9:36. As the lead singer Zero stepped out at first I was a bit confused. I saw a drum kit behind him and a synth set up over to the side, but he was just quietly rapping with a raspy voice. I thought, sometimes a spoken word artist will kick things off with some street poetry, so maybe that's what's going on here. But after the first acapella song the rest of the band joined Zero to fill out their sound. The drums, guitar, and synth kicked in and the band produced something close to an alt-rap-metal or metal-core vibe with some emo thrown in for good measure. There were a lot of familiar lyrics like "If you were here right now" "Don't walk away" "I push myself to the edge", etc.
After shooting the first three songs I made my way towards the back to watch the rest of the set. As I watched it became clear how much Zero 9:36 and many others in their lane have been heavily influenced by Linkin Park. Whether they admit it or not, that aggressive rapping, crunchy guitar, and pop melody is a direct line from the 2000s rock legends. I know Linkin Park wasn't the first to do a rap-metal style, but the way they layered the DJ/electronic sounds with the heavy guitars was pretty groundbreaking, and Zero 9:36 should definitely give LP some credit for knocking down the door. As Zero 9:36 played their last song "Adrenaline" the light bulb of "Oh I've heard this on the radio" popped on. People jumped up a bit with that same "Oh I know this song" look and started singing along. Zero 9:36 has a few more shows with Shinedown before giving tour support for Neck Deep.
After Zero 9:36, the band I was the most excited to see hit the stage. Coming all the way from the U.K., The Struts are here to save rock and roll! These guys were soooooo good. I can't wait until they have a headline tour. I would for sure drive a few hours out of town to catch them again if it was their own show.
As the fog slowly met the cooling night air The Struts hit the stage looking like a million bucks. Dressed in matching purple suits these guys looked like rock gods! They kicked things off with "Primadonna Like Me" from 2018's Young and Dangerous, an up beat tune that heavily borrows from both The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith. This got everyone in the place on their feet! Lead singer Luke Spiller has been described by several different writers as a love child of Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury, and I wholeheartedly agree. Luke came out strutting around with that Mick Jagger rooster dance, asking the audience, "Are you ready baby?" "Oh yea, we're gonna have a good time darlings". If it was anyone else that might have come off a bit cheesy, but I was right there hanging on his every word.
The set continued with the radio banger "Your Body Talks" followed by another radio smash "Kiss This". It's too bad the set was only eight songs as The Struts have several more singles and fan-favorites they could've pulled out, but such is the life of the opening band. Alas, The Struts had the crowd fired up and ready for Shinedown by the end and closed out with one of their first big radio singles "Could Have Been Me".
Seriously, if you ever get the chance to catch The Struts don't let it pass you by. These guys have the potential to go down as one of the greats alongside the bands they are so clearly influenced by like The Rolling Stones, Queen, and Cheap Trick. I'm glad I finally got to see them after so many cancellations and re-schedules. It was definitely worth the wait.
The Struts Setlist
Primadonna Like Me
I Hate How Much I Want You
Put Your Money on Me
I Do It So Well
Could Have Been Me
After the sun went down, the air started cooling into the 50s as more and more people made their way towards the front to get ready to rock with Shinedown!
By the time Shinedown hit the stage the Pinewood Bowl was filled to near capacity. In the Midwest, it's clear that people are ready to get back to shows. This weekend's Knotfest show in Iowa (9/25) just sold out to over 30,000 fans! Wild stuff.
Pinewood is an awesome venue. They've got excellent sound and are able to accommodate some pretty elaborate stage set ups. I was hoping for a bit of pyro or something to pop up from a riser "beneath the stage" but the L.E.D. backdrops were still impressive. The lights were dark red (a photographer's nightmare) during the opening song "Cut The Cord", but they quickly changed to a nice mix of bright white and some blues. It was great to have such bright lighting that wasn't a dark color like red or green. Even though our brand here at Stories from the Crowd is a black and white vibe it was great to have adequate lighting for once.
The crowd participation was on point from the start. During "Cut The Cord" there's a background vocal on the recording with some children singing "Freedom, la la la la" As lead singer Brent Smith belted out the final "Cut the cord!" I could hear the crowd behind me coming in with the la la la, which was cool to hear live.
Shinedown continued with another big hit "Unity". From my personal take it's about the concert experience and being with people around you who enjoy the same things, so getting to hear it live was amazing.
Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I've been looking for you day and night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
'Cause I'm not gonna leave you behind
If I told you that you're not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time
From there the hits kept coming including one of Shinedown's very first singles "Fly From The Inside". This one had a bit more southern flair. I was psyched when the band followed up with "State Of My Head" from 2015's Threat to Survival.
Next up was the pop-rock ballad "If You Only Knew". Before the song Brent said "This one is for the ladies so fellas bring your girl in close". With phone flashlights in the air, the crowd swayed along. After that Brent said "Let's take it back to 2003" as the band launched into one of their first big singles "45". This got a great crowd reaction as the whole place was singing at the top of their lungs.
Shinedown would go on to play eleven more songs, all singles! Actually, looking at the setlist all of the songs played have received radio play at some point. There's not that many bands out there that can fill a whole set with just straight up hits. It's crazy to think that Shinedown holds the record for most number one songs on Billboard's rock chart (16 singles), yet they still aren't massively known in the main stream world. After seeing the band and how they connect with the audience I don't think they really give that much thought. Shinedown is a humble band just doing what they love. With a new album in the works for later this year or early 2022 I'm sure they'll continue to hold the record and get that 17th number one song. I'll be excited to hear it when they come back and play for the Midwest radio-rock fans that helped put them on the map.
Cut the Cord
Fly From the Inside
State of My Head
If You Only Knew
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
I'll Follow You
How Did You Love
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Sound of Madness
A big thanks to 104.1 The Blaze for bringing the bands and to Pinewood Bowl/Shinedown Management for setting up photo access. If you like what you read, please share! Or better yet, give us a follow on Facebook and Instagram @storiesfromthecrowd.